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Modern-day Laos has its roots in the ancient Lao kingdom of Lan Xang, established in the 14th Century under King FA NGUM. For 300 years Lan Xang had influence reaching into present-day Cambodia and Thailand, as well as over all of what is now Laos. After centuries of gradual decline, Laos came under the domination of Siam (Thailand) from the late 18th century until the late 19th century when it became part of French Indochina. The Franco-Siamese Treaty of 1907 defined the current Lao border with Thailand. In 1975, the Communist Pathet Lao took control of the government ending a six-century-old monarchy and instituting a strict socialist regime closely aligned to Vietnam. A gradual, limited return to private enterprise and the liberalization of foreign investment laws began in 1988. Laos became a member of ASEAN in 1997.


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People And Society

Noun Lao(s) or Laotian(s)
Adjective Lao or Laotian

Ethnic groups
Lao 55%, Khmou 11%, Hmong 8%, other (over 100 minor ethnic groups) 26% (2005 census)

Lao (official), French, English, various ethnic languages

Buddhist 67%, Christian 1.5%, other and unspecified 31.5% (2005 census)

Population World Ranking: 102
6,586,266 (July 2012 est.)

Age structure
0-14 years
36.7% (male 1,197,579/female 1,181,523)
15-64 years
59.6% (male 1,908,176/female 1,950,544)
65 years and over
3.7% (male 107,876/female 131,513) (2011 est.)

Median age
Total 21.4 years
Male 21.1 years
Female 21.6 years (2012 est.)

Population growth rate World Ranking: 71
1.655% (2012 est.)

Birth rate World Ranking: 55
25.68 births/1,000 population (2012 est.)

Death rate World Ranking: 102
7.99 deaths/1,000 population (July 2012 est.)

Net migration rate World Ranking: 153
-1.14 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2012 est.)

Urban population 33% of total population (2010)
Rate of urbanization
4.9% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major cities - population
VIENTIANE (capital) 799,000 (2009)

Sex ratio
At birth 1.04 male(s)/female
Under 15 years 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years 0.98 male(s)/female
65 years and over 0.82 male(s)/female
Total population
0.98 male(s)/female (2011 est.)

Maternal mortality rate World Ranking: 20
470 deaths/100,000 live births (2010)

Infant mortality rate World Ranking: 35
Total 57.77 deaths/1,000 live births
Male 63.68 deaths/1,000 live births
51.62 deaths/1,000 live births (2012 est.)

Life expectancy at birth World Ranking: 179
Total population 62.77 years
Male 60.85 years
Female 64.76 years (2012 est.)

Total fertility rate World Ranking: 59
3.06 children born/woman (2012 est.)

Health expenditures World Ranking: 91
6.5% of GDP (2009)

Physicians density
0.272 physicians/1,000 population (2005)

Hospital bed density
1.2 beds/1,000 population (2005)

Hiv/aids - adult prevalence rate World Ranking: 107
0.2% (2009 est.)

Hiv/aids - people living with hiv/aids World Ranking: 106
8,500 (2009 est.)

Hiv/aids - deaths World Ranking: 111
Fewer than 200 (2009 est.)

Major infectious diseases
Degree of risk Very high
Food or waterborne diseases
Bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
Vectorborne diseases Dengue fever and malaria
Highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza has been identified in this country; it poses a negligible risk with extremely rare cases possible among US citizens who have close contact with birds (2009)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate World Ranking: 69
1.2% (2000)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight World Ranking: 16
31.6% (2006)

Education expenditures World Ranking: 151
2.3% of GDP (2008)

Age 15 and over can read and write
Total population 73%
Male 83%
Female 63% (2005 Census)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)
Total 9 years
Male 10 years
Female 9 years (2008)


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  Laos (Vientiane):

  GPS points from Laos (Vientiane)

Ban La Ka Khoueng Houaphan

Phou Khao Thang Khoueng Xaignabouli

Ban Khasela (2) Khoueng Phongsali

Ban Hong Khoueng Oudomxai

Ban Chavik Khoueng Xekong

Ban Nakhouang Khoueng Champasak

Con Tagne Khoueng Louangnamtha

Ban Tang-o Khoueng Bokeo
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